Once you arrive in Germany, there are a few formalities that need to be completed here on site.
The following website enables you to find various authorities in your area quickly. After entering your post code and search criteria, for example, the competent foreigners authority, residents' registration office, migration advice centers or contact for integration courses will be displayed:
finding authorities in Germany (only available in German)
If you move into an apartment in Germany, you have to register within two weeks at the competent registration office. In some places, the authority is also called Bürgerbüro or Bezirksamt. For stays of less than 90 days, registration is not required.
Your residential address is decisive for the question of which registration office is responsible for you. Depending on which city/district you live in, a different office is responsible for you.
Many offices offer the service of making an appointment online for registration in order to avoid long waiting times. Please also remember to re-register at the Residents' Registration Office when you move.
Deregistration is only required if you move abroad or give up one of several residences (e.g. secondary residence).
The following documents are required for registration:
- Housing provider confirmation ("Wohnungsgeberbestätigung")
- Completed registration form (if available)
- marriage/divorce certificate (if available)
For stays of more than 90 days, you have to apply for a residence title within the first three months after your arrival at the responsible foreigners authority in order to be allowed to stay in Germany. Depending on the type of occupation you have in Germany, there are various residence titles that may be considered for your stay. Each residence title is associated with different rights and obligations. At the Foreigners' Office, your personal situation will be examined and you will then be granted the appropriate residence title.
It is often helpful to get a rough overview of which residence title you may be eligible for before your appointment at the Foreigners' Registration Office.
The following websites provide an overview of various residence titles in Germany:
BAMF: Coming to Germany as a scientist
Make it in Germany: Visa
German Rectors´ conference: Mobility of researchers
The following documents are required to apply for/extend the residence title:
- Passport with copy and visa confirmation
- 2 biometric passport photos (for the initial application) / 1 biometric passport photo for the application for extension
- Copy of employment contract/ letter from scholarship provider about duration of stay and amount of the scholarship
- Hosting agreement (if available)
- Certificate of enrollment (if available)
- Confirmation of German health insurance (copy)
- Confirmation of registration from the Residents' Registration Office ("Einwohnermeldeamt")
- Cash or EC card for payment of fees
- Completed application form for residence titles
Special service in Geesthacht:
In Geesthacht, a shuttle service to the Foreigners' Registration Office in Ratzeburg is offered regularly on Wednesdays by our guest advisor Uwe Benn. He will assist you with all issues concerning visa and residence regulations and help you fill out the forms. Please register well in advance with Uwe Benn (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a trip to Ratzeburg. For further information please contact the Welcome Office (email@example.com)
Welcome Office - Guestadvisor, Trips to Foreign Office Ratzeburg
Phone: +49 (0)4152 87 1419
Building 27, 3rd floor, room 329
Availability: Wednesday from 10 - 12 a.m. / Thursday from 4:30 - 6 p.m.
After registration at the Residents' Registration Office, you will automatically receive your tax identification number / tax-ID, which is valid for life time, by mail within 2 to 5 weeks. With this tax ID, your tax payments can be assigned to you personally.
Please inform your HR officer at Hereon as soon as possible (no later than 6 weeks after registration).
If you have your main residence in Germany and belong to a state-recognized church, you are subject to church tax. This tax is automatically deducted from your salary.
As a tax-paying employee, you have the option of submitting a tax declaration. To do so you can use the Elster portal or alternatively fill out the corresponding form and forward it to the competent tax office. The income tax paid within a calendar year and the financial charges must be stated in it. The tax office will then check whether you are entitled to a tax refund.
For more information, please visit:
- Euraxess: Taxes
- Make it in Germany: Taxes
In Germany, having a health insurance is mandatory. This means that everyone staying in Germany must be adequately insured in case of illness. Depending on the type and conditions of your stay, you have various options for insurance.
There are two different models: the statutory and the private health insurance.
The type of health insurance you are eligible for depends on whether you are employed in Germany with a contract of employment or are financed in some other way (e.g. own funds, scholarship, funding from your home university).
In general, you are free to choose the insurance company. On the Internet you will find a large selection of providers offering a wide range of services. To receive a residence permit, confirmation of German health insurance is required.
Statutory health insurance
Through an employment relationship with an employment contract in Germany, you are automatically entitled to a statutory health insurance. The statutory health insurances all cover the basic care in case of illness. However, the individual providers usually differ in the additional benefits offered and also in the amount of contributions. In the case of statutory health insurance, you as an employee pay 50% of the health insurance contribution and the other 50% is covered by your employer. When you go to the doctor, he or she settles the costs incurred for basic care directly with the health insurance company.
Here you can find a list of all statutory health insurance companies:
List of Health Insurance Companies
For membership, you submit an application to the health insurance company of your choice. This is usually possible online. Your membership starts with the first day of your employment contract.
Please send the membership certificate from your health insurance company to the Human Resources department (HRB) at Hereon. This is mandatory for payroll purposes.
Private health insurance
Private health insurance is only available if you are not by the statutory health insurance scheme. Visiting scholars and students with scholarships must take out private health insurance if it is not already included in their scholarship. There are special providers for these cases. Be sure to check the terms, conditions, and benefits of each policy before taking out a policy. Often, these policies only offer basic coverage.
The monthly premium for private health insurance is based on the benefits you want and your age. There are sometimes large price differences between providers.
Private health insurance is based on the principle of reimbursement. When you visit a doctor, you first receive the bill for the treatment costs and pay it. Afterwards, you submit the doctor's bill to your health insurance company and they reimburse you, within the insurance conditions, the amount paid.
Detailed information on this topic (in particular also on the topic of visiting scholars and fellows) can be found here:
Euraxess Deutschland/ Information& Assistance/ Social security and optional insurances
Euraxess Deutschland/ Substitutive private health insurance coverage for scholarship holders in Germany
Visiting scholars with a German employment contract are required to have health insurance. They must take out German health insurance. Visiting scientists from EEA countries and countries with social security agreements may possibly remain insured via the health insurance in their home country for short stays. They only need a valid European Health Insurance Card and a corresponding certificate from the health insurance company. Especially in the case of longer stays abroad, please inform yourself in detail about your insurance coverage with your health insurance company, as German health insurance may also be required here.
A personal liability insurance protects you, for example, against property damage, personal injury and loss of keys. The insurance companies offer a wide variety of coverage, including the type of damage, the amount of coverage and the premiums to be paid.
Generally, a private liability insurance is definitely recommended, because it can protect the policyholder from sometimes very high claims for damages..
Other important insurances could be the occupational disability insurance, the private accident insurance and the household insurance.
For further information, please see: Make it in Germany: Insurance.
To equip your mobile phone with a German sim card, you have two options. You can either buy a prepaid card or sign a contract with a mobile provider.
With a mobile phone contract, you select a specific tariff and pay the corresponding price each month. The thing to keep in mind here is that some contracts have a minimum term. This means that you cannot leave the contract during this time and must pay the agreed price until the minimum term expires. In addition, some providers may charge a one-time activation fee.
The same applies if you sign a Telefon and WiFi contract for your home. In addition to a wide variety of rate conditions, there are often hidden costs such as connection fees, fees for a security package or the provision of a router. There is usually a minimum contract term as well. So be sure to inform yourself in detail about the contract before you sign it.
If you are staying in Germany for a longer period of time and have also registered your residence here, it is advisable to open a German current account. Here you can choose between branch banks and direct banks. Branch banks are credit institutions that maintain a network of branches. Direct banks, on the other hand, do not have their own branches and all banking transactions and applications are carried out online.
Current accounts are available at different conditions and with different fee models (fee-based / fee-free). In order to be able to decide which account model at which credit institution is best suited to your personal needs, it is advisable to make use of the advisory service offered by the various banks. Some banks also offer this service online and in English. For the account opening itself, you usually only need a valid passport, the registration certificate and your tax identification number.
Your salary that you get from Hereon can only be transferred to a German account.
We recommend, that visiting scholars and fellows, who are unable to open a bank account in Germany, check before their stay in Germany whether their credit card is accepted in Germany. It is advisable to research financial service providers that allow payment transactions with the European IBAN system. This makes it easier to receive and transfer money locally.